Labour’s Angling Spokesperson Martin Salter waded into the debate over the proposed new 40cms minimum landing size (M.L.S) for bass, urging Fisheries Minister Ben Bradshaw “to be bold when it comes to protecting our fish stocks”.

Mr Salter argued that the government should mover to a larger 45cms M.L.S as soon as possible. He also suggested that the following Marine Bill could create “a Golden Mile” of protected coastal water where only recreational anglers could fish for finned species.

Speaking in the House of Commons last week, Mr Salter said:

“I shall conclude with a few final thoughts. Why do we not go further than the provisions in the marine Bill and create a golden mile—an area, let us say for argument’s sake, a mile from our coast, free of commercial exploitation and inshore netting, where only recreational sea angling is permitted? That approach has already been adopted in Yorkshire and the north-east and is producing tremendous results, not just for the recreational sea angling sector, but for commercial fishermen, who are enjoying better fishing as a result of better and more productive spawning grounds. If we protect that area, it feeds the food chain, supports spawning and recruitment, and increases biodiversity.”

He added:

“The vast majority of recreational sea angling takes place within a mile of the shore. In fact, it takes place very close to the shore, or actually from the shore. Why do we not go further than the Minister suggests on the bass minimum landing size? The bass is a wonderful sports fish species. It can be caught by bait fishing, by spinning and by fly fishing, and it is wonderful to eat. People will spend a lot of money to come to communities that enjoy good bass fishing or have good bass fishing grounds. We should not be arguing about 40 cm; 42 cm is the better size for protecting bass stocks, in terms of the optimum spawning size. We should be moving as quickly as possible to 45 cm, as the recreational sea angling community have argued. I urge the Minister to be bold when it comes to protecting our fish stocks.”